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The life of William Ewart Gladstone, Volume 2 online

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railway from Suakin, as now projected, would fall with it, since
it was adopted as a military measure, subsidiary to the advance
on Khartoum. The prosecution of it as a civil or commercial
enterprise would be a new proposal, to be examined on its merits.

The military situation appears in some respects favourable to
the re-examination of the whole subject. The general has found
himself unable to execute his intention of taking Berber, and this
failure alters the basis on which the cabinet proceeded in February,
and greatly increases the difficulty of the autumn enterprise. On
the one hand Wolseley's and Graham's forces have had five or six
considerable actions, and have been uniformly victorious. On the
other hand, the Mahdi has voluntarily retired from Khartoum,
and Osman Digna has been driven from the field, but cannot, as
Graham says, be followed into the mountains. 1 While the present
situation may thus seem opportune, the future of more extended
operations is dark. In at least one of his telegrams, Wolseley has
expressed a very keen desire to get the British army out of the
Soudan. 3 He has now made very large demands for the autumn
expedition, which, judging from previous experience and from
general likelihood, are almost certain to grow larger, as he comes
more closely to confront the very formidable task before him ;
while in his letter to Lord Hartington he describes this affair to be
the greatest 'since 1815,' and expresses his hope that all the
members of the cabinet clearly understand this to be the case. He
also names a period of between two or three years for the com-
1 Telegram of April 4. ' Despatch, March 9.

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pletion of the railway, while he expresses an absolute confidence in
the power and resources of this country with vast effort to insure
success. He means without doubt military success. Political
success appears much more problematical.

There remains, however, to be considered a question which I
take to be of extreme importance. I mean the moral basis of the
projected military operations. I have from the first regarded the
rising of the Soudanese against Egypt as a justifiable and honour-
able revolt. The cabinet have, I think, never taken an opposite
view. Mr. Power in his letter from Khartoum before Gordon's
arrival, is decided and even fervent in the same sense.

We sent Gordon on a mission of peace and liberation. From
such information as alone we have possessed, we found this
missionary of peace menaced and besieged, finally betrayed by
some of his troops, and slaughtered by those whom he came to set
free. This information, however, was fragmentary, and was also
one-sidecL We have now the advantage of reviewing it as a whole,
of reading it in the light of events, and of some auxiliary evidence
such as that of Mr. Power.

I never understood how it was that Gordon's mission of peace
became one of war. But we knew the nobleness of his philan-
thropy, and we trusted him to the uttermost, as it was our duty
to do. He never informed us that he had himself changed the
character of the mission. It seemed strange that one who bore
in his hands a charter of liberation should be besieged and threat-
ened; but we took everything for granted in his favour, and
against his enemies; and we could hardly do otherwise. Our
obligations in this respect were greatly enhanced by the long inter-
ruption of telegraphic communication. It was our duty to believe
that, if we could only know what he was prevented from saying
to us, contradictions would be reconciled, and language of excess
accounted for. We now know from the letters of Mr. Power that
when he was at Khartoum with Colonel de Coetlogon before
Gordon's arrival, a retreat on Berber had been actually ordered;
it was regarded no doubt as a serious work of time, because it in-
volved the removal of an Egyptian population ; l but it was deemed
feasible, and Power expresses no doubt of its accomplishment. 2
As far as, amidst its inconsistencies, a construction can be put
on Gordon's language, it is to the effect that there was a population
and a force attached to him, which he could not remove and would
not leave. 3 But De Coetlogon did not regard this removal as
impracticable, and was actually setting about it. Why Gordon did
not prosecute it, why we hear no more of it from Power after
Gordon's arrival, is a mystery. Instructed by results we now
perceive that Gordon's title as governor-general might naturally be
interpreted by the tribes in the light of much of the language used
by him, which did not savour of liberation and evacuation, but of
powers of government over the Soudan ; powers to be used bene-

1 Power, p. 73 A. • Ibid, 75 B.

8 Egypt, No. 18, p. 34, 1884 (April) ; Egypt, No. 35, p. 122 (July 30).

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HOME RULE BILL, 1886 839

volently, but still powers of government. Why the Mahdi did not
accept him is not hard to understand, but why was he not accepted
by those local sultans, whom it was the basis of his declared policy
to re-invest with their ancient powers, in spite of Egypt and of the
Mahdi alike ? Was he not in short interpreted as associated with
the work of Hicks, and did he not himself give probable colour to
this interpretation ? It must be borne in mind that on other matters
of the gravest importance — on the use of Turkish force — on the use
of British force — on the employment of Zobeir — Gordon announced
within a very short time contradictory views, and never seemed to
feel that there was any need of explanation, in order to account
for the contradictions. There is every presumption, as well as
every sign, that like fluctuation and inconsistency crept into his
words and acts as to the liberation of the country ; ana this, if it
was so, could not but produce ruinous effects. Upon the whole, it
seems probable that Gordon, perhaps insensibly to himself, and
certainly without our concurrence, altered the character of his
mission, and worked in a considerable degree against our inten-
tions and instructions.

There does not appear to be any question now of the security
of the army, but a most grave question whether we can demon-
strate a necessity (nothing less will suffice) for making war on a
people who are struggling against a foreign and armed yoke, not
for the rescue of our own countrymen, not for the rescue so fwr as
we know of an Egyptian population, but with very heavy cost^of
British life as well as treasure, with a serious strain on our
military resources at a most critical time, and with the most
serious fear that if we persist, we shall find ourselves engaged in
an odious work of subjugation. The discontinuance of these
military operations would, I presume, take the form of a suspension
sine die, leaving the future open ; would require attention to be
paid to defence on the recognised southern frontier of Egypt, and
need not involve any precipitate abandonment of Suakin.

Vol. II. page 548

The following smwmary of the provisions of the Home Rule bill of 1 886
supplements the description of the bill given in Chapter V. Book X. :—

One of the cardinal difficulties of all free government is to make
it hard for majorities to act unjustly to minorities. You cannot
make this injustice impossible but you may set up obstacles. In
this case, there was no novelty in the device adopted. The legisla-
tive body was to be composed of two orders. The first order was
to consist of the twenty-eight representative peers, together with
seventy-five members elected by certain scheduled constituencies
on an occupation franchise of twenty-five pounds and upwards.
To be eligible for the first order, a person must have a property

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qualification, either in realty of two hundred pounds a year, or in
personality of the same amount, or a capital value of four thousand
pounds. The representative peers now existing would sit for life,
and, as they dropped off, the crown would nominate persons to
take their place up to a certain date, and on the exhaustion of the
twenty-eight existing peers, then the whole of the first order would
become elective under the same conditions as the seventy-five
other members.

The second order would consist of 206 members, chosen by
existing counties and towns under the machinery now operative.
The two orders were to sit and deliberate together, but either
order could demand a separate vote. This right would enable a
majority of one order to veto the proposal of the other. But the
veto was only to operate until a dissolution, or for three years,
whichever might be the longer interval of the two.

The executive transition was to be gradual. The office of
viceroy would remain, but he would not be the minister of a party,
nor quit office with an outgoing government. He would have a
privy council ; within that councu would be formed an executive
body of ministers like the British cabinet. This executive would
be responsible to the Irish legislature, just as the executive govern-
ment here is responsible to the legislature of this country. If any
clause of a bill seemed to the viceroy to be ultra vires, he could
refer it to the judicial committee of the privy council in London.
The same reference, in respect of a section of an Irish Act, lay
open either to the English secretary of state, or to a suitor,
defendant, or other person concerned.

Future judges were to hold the same place in the Irish system
as English judges in the English system; their office was to be
during gooa benaviour ; they were to be appointed on the advice
of the Irish goyernment, removable only on the joint address of
the two orders, and their salaries charged on the Irish consolidated
fund. The burning question of the royal Irish constabulary was
dealt with provisionally. Until a local force was created by the
new government, they were to remain at the orders of the lord
lieutenant. Ultimately the Irish police were to come under the
control of the legislative body. For two years from the passing
of the Act, the legislative body was to fix the charge for the whole
constabulary of Ireland.

In national as in domestic housekeeping, the figure of available
income is the vital question. The total receipts of the Irish
exchequer would be £8,350,000, from customs, excise, stamps,
income-tax, and non-tax revenue. On a general comparison of toe
taxable revenues of Ireland and Great Britain, as tested more
especially by the property passing under the death duties, the fair
proportion due as Ireland's share for imperial purposes, such as
interest on the debt, defence, and civil charge, was fixed at one-
fifteenth. This would bring the total charge properly imperial up
to £3,242,000. Civil charges in Ireland were put at £2,510,000,
and the constabulary charge on Ireland was not to exceed

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XI, 000,000, any excess over that sum being debited to England.
The Irish government would be left with a surplus of £404,000.
This may seem a ludicrously meagre Amount, but, compared with
the total revenue, it is equivalent to a surplus on our own budget
of that date of something like five millions.

The true payment to imperial charges was to be £1,842,000
because of the gross revenue above stated of £1,400,000 though
paid in Ireland in the first instance was really paid by British
consumers of whisky, porter, and tobacco. This sum, deducted
from £3,342,000, leaves the real Irish contribution, namely

A further sum of uncertain, but substantial amount, would go
to the Irish exchequer from another source, to which we have
now to turn. With the proposals for self-government were
coupled proposals for a settlement of the land question. The
ground-work was an option offered to the landlords of being
bought out under the terms of the Act. The purchaser was
to be an Irish state authority, as the organ representing the
legislative body. The occupier was to become the proprietor,
except in the congested districts, where the state authority was
to be the proprietor. The normal price was to be twenty years'
purchase of the net rental. The most important provision, in
one sense, was that which recognised the salutary principle
that the public credit should not be resorted to on such a scale
as this merely for the benefit of a limited number of existing
cultivators of the soil, without any direct advantage to the govern-
ment as representing the community at large. That was effected
by making the tenant pay an annual instalment, calculated on the
gross rental, while the state authority would repay to the imperial
treasury a percentage calculated on the net rental, and the state
authority would pocket the difference, estimated to be about 18
per cent, on the sum payable to the selling landlord. How was
all this to be secured ? Principally, on the annuities paid by the
tenants who had purchased their holdings, and if the holdings
did not satisfy the charge, then on the revenues of Ireland. All
public revenues whatever were to be collected by persons appointed
by the Irish government, but these collectors were to pay over all
sums that came into their hands to an imperial officer, to be styled
a receiver-general. Through him all rents and Irish revenues
whatever were to pass, and not a shilling was to be let out for
Irish purposes until their obligations to the imperial exchequer
had been discharged.

Vol II. page 655

By the provisions of nature, Italy was marked out for a con-
servative force in Europe. As England is cut off by the channel,
so is Italy by the mountains, from the continental mass. ... If

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England commits follies they are the follies of a strong man who
can afford to waste a portion of his resources without greatly
affecting the sum total. . . . She has a huge free margin, on which
she might scrawl a long list of follies and even crimes without
damaging the letterpress. But where and what is the free margin
in the case of Italy, a country which has contrived in less than a
quarter of a century of peace, from the date of her restored
independence, to treble (or something near it) the taxation of her
people, to raise the charge of her debt to a point higher than that
of England, and to arrive within one or two short paces of national
bankruptcy] . . .

Italy by nature stands in alliance neither with anarchy nor with
Caesarism, but with the cause and advocates of national liberty and
progress throughout Europe. Never had a nation greater advan-
tages from soil and climate, from the talents and dispositions of the
people, never was there a more smiling prospect (if we may fall
back upon the graceful fiction) from the Alpine tops, even down
to the Sicilian promontories, than that which for the moment has
been darkly blurred. It is the heart's desire of those, who are
not indeed her teachers, but 'her friends, that she may rouse
herself to dispel once and for ever the evil dream of what is not so
much ambition as affectation, may acknowledge the true conditions
under which she lives, and it perhaps may not yet be too late for
her to disappoint the malevolent hopes of the foes of freedom, and
to fulfil every bright and glowing prediction which its votaries
have ever uttered on her behalf. — * The Triple Alliance and Italy's
Place in it * (Contemporary Review, Oct 1889).

Vol. II. page 732

After describing the past history of Ireland as being for more than
five hundred years ' one almost unbroken succession of political storm
and swollen tempest, except when those tempests were for a time inter-
rupted by a period of servitude and by the stillness of death,' Mr. Gladstone
went on: —

Those storms are in strong contrast with the future, with the
present. The condition of the Irish mind justifies us in antici-
pating. It recalls to my mind a beautiful legend of ancient
paganism — for that ancient paganism, amongst many legends
false and many foul, had also some that were beautiful. There
were two Lacedaemonian heroes known as Castor and Pollux,
honoured in their life and more honoured in their death, when a
star was called after them, and upon that star the fond imagina-
tion of the people fastened lively conceptions ; for they thought
that when a ship at sea was caught in a storm, when dread began
to possess the minds of the crew, and peril thickened round
them, and even alarm was giving place to despair, that if then in
the high heavens this star appeared, gradually and gently but

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effectually the clouds disappeared, the winds abated, the towering
billows fell down to the surface of the deep, calm came where there
had been uproar, safety came where there had been danger, and
under the beneficent influence of this heavenly body the terrified
and despairing crew came safely to port. The proposal which the
liberal party of this country made in 1886, which they still cherish
in their mind and heart, and which we trust and believe, they are
about now to carry forward, that proposal has been to Ireland and
the political relations of the two countries what the happy star was
believed to be to the seamen of antiquity. It has produced
already anticipations of love and good will, which are the first
fruits of what is to come. It has already changed the whole tone
and temper of the relations, I cannot say yet between the laws,
but between the peoples and inhabitants of these two great islands.
It has filled our hearts with hope and with joy, and it promises to
give us in lieu of the terrible disturbances of other times, with
their increasing, intolerable burdens and insoluble problems, the
promise of a brotherhood exhibiting harmony and strength at
home, and a brotherhood which before the world shall, instead of
being as it hitherto has been for the most part, a scandal, be a
model and an example, and shall show that we whose political
wisdom is for so many purposes recognised by the nations of
civilised Europe and America have at length found the means of
meeting this oldest and worst of all our difficulties, and of substi-
tuting for disorder, for misery, for contention, the actual arrival
and the yet riper promise of a reign of peace. — Theatre Royal,
Glasgow, July 2, 1892.


The first paragraphof this memorandum will be found onp.748,vol.IL: —

This might be taken for granted as to 1854, 1870, and 1884.
That it was equally true in my mind of 1859 may be seen by any
one who reads my budget speech of July 18, 1859. I defended
the provision as required by and for the time, and for the time
only. The occasion in that year was the state of the continent.
It was immediately followed by the China war (No. 3) and by the
French affair (1861-2), but when these had been disposed of
economy began ; and, by 1863-4, the bulk of the new charge had
been got rid of.

There is also the case of the fortifications in 1860, which would
take me too long to state fully. But I will state briefly (1) my
conduct in that matter was mainly or wholly governed by regard
to peace, for I believed, and believe now, that in 1860 there were
only two alternatives ; one of them, the French treaty, and the
other, war with France. And I also believed in July 1860 that
the French treaty must break down, unless I held my office. (2)
The demand was reduced from nine millions to about five (has
this been done now ?) (3) I acted in concert with my old friend
and colleague, Sir James Graham. We were entirely agreed.

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Terse figures of new estimates

The ' approximate figure ' of charge involved in the new plan ol
the admiralty is £4,240,000, say 4£ millions. Being an increase
(subject probably to some further increase in becoming an act).
1. On the normal navy estimate 1888-9 {i.e. before the Naval

Defence Act) of, in round numbers,

2. On the first year's total charge under the

Naval Defence Act of (1,979,000),

3. On the estimates of last year 1893-4 of,

4. On the total charge of 1893-4 of (1,571,000) .

5. On the highest amount ever defrayed from

the year's revenue (1892-3),

6. On the highest expenditure of any year under

the Naval Defence Act which included
1,150,000 of borrowed money,

4 J millions

2 millions

3 millions
1£ million

\\ million



Vol. II. page 766

The following is the list of the seventy ministers who served in cabinet*
of which Mr. Gladstone was a member: —

1843-45. Peel.












1846. Ellenborough.

S. Herbert.

Granville Somerset.

1852-55. Cranworth.





C. Wood.




G. Grey.

1855. Panmure.

1859-65. Campbell

G. C. Lewis.

Duke of Somerset

Milner Gibson.


C. Villiers.




Stanley of Alderley.
1865-66. Harrington.

1868-74. Hatherley.






C. Fortescue.



1880-85. Spencer.


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0-85. Chamberlain.

C. Bannerman




John Morley.


1892. Asquith.







1886. Herschell.

A. Morley,

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Deo. 13. Elected member for New-
ark,— Gladstone, 887 ;
Handley, 798; Wilde,


Admitted a law student at
Lincoln's Inn.

Elected member of Carlton

Speaks on a Newark peti-

Appointed on Colchester
election committee.

Presents an Edinburgh
petition against immedi-
ate abolition of slavery.

On Slavery Abolition bill.

On Liverpool election peti-

Opposes Church Reform
(Ireland) bill.

29. On negro apprentice-
ship system.

Serves on select committee
on stationary office.

Moves for return on Irish



March 6.











,,25 and





Mar. 12 and 19. On bill disenfran-
chising Liverpool free-
4. Serves on select committee
on education in England.
28. Opposes Universities Ad-
mission bill.
26. Junior lord of the treasury
in Sir R. Peel's ministry.


Jan. 5. Returned unopposed for
„ 27. Under-secretary for war
and the colonies.



March 4. Moves for, and serves on,
a committee on mili-
tary expenditure in the
„ 19. Brings in Colonial Passen-
gers' bill for improving
condition of emigrants.
„ 31. In defence of Irish church.
June 11. Entertained at Newark.
, , 22, July 20. Criticises Municipal
Corporation bilL
Aug. 21. Defends House of Lords.
Sept. 23. Death of his mother.






A member of Aborigines
March 22. On negro apprenticeship
in Jamaica.
A member of negro ap-
prenticeship committee.
1. On Tithes and Church
(Ireland) bilL
„ 8. A member of select com-
mittee on disposal of
land in the colonies.
Oct. 18. Speaks at dinner of Liver-
pool Tradesmen's Con-
servative Association.
,, 21. Speaks at dinner of Liver-
pool Operatives' Con-
servative Association.





13. SpeakB at Peel banquet at
Speaks at Newark.
Moves for return showing
religious instruction in
the colonies.
March 7. A member of committee
on Irish education.
,, 8. Onanairs of Lower Canada.
„ 15. In support of church rates.

* All speeches unless otherwise stated were made in the House of Commons.

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April 28. A member of colonial ac-
counts committee.
„ 21. At Newark on Poor Law.
,, 24. Returned unopposed for

„ 27. Defeated for Manchester, —
Thomson, 4127; Philips,
3759 ; Gladstone, 2324.
Aug. 9. Speaks at dinner at Man-
Dec. 12. Member of committee on
education of poor chil-
„ 22. On Canadian discontent.

Jan. 23. On Canadian affairs.
March 7. Criticises action of govern-
ment in Canada.
„ 30. In defence of West Indian
sugar planters.
June 20. On private bill to facilitate

Online LibraryJohn MorleyThe life of William Ewart Gladstone, Volume 2 → online text (page 78 of 91)